Paulina Alexis is Reservation Dogs’ breakout star

It didn’t take long for Reservation Dogs to secure Hollywood’s stamp of approval. In the year since its debut, the FX dramedy—which is co-created by Oscar-winner Taika Waititi—has clinched a Peabody, a Golden Globe nomination and an Independent Spirit Award for best ensemble cast. The team itself is an entertainment industry anomaly, though: every single one of the show’s writers and actors is Indigenous—including fan favourite Paulina Alexis.

Redefining Indigenous cinema

Oftentimes, with Indigenous stories on screen, there is the burden of sliding in decades of context into a film. The effects of colonialism to current day systemic racism, and everything in-between, often seeps into films created and written by us. Indigenous filmmakers have to consider who their audience is – someone who inherently knows this history, or someone brand new, which shifts the approach. Must they explain XYZ in an organic way or will it drag out the story they came to tell?

Indigenous Filmmaking Now: An Overview

Although Canada’s media establishment may claim things are better, where are the opportunities for Indigenous film and TV creatives this year and next? It’s still a tough slog as a producer or filmmaker to receive funding, get opportunities to be employed in higher and mid-level positions where the decisions are made, or to have any control. There are success stories, but many Indigenous filmmakers in documentary, film, and TV are struggling to get the support they need from the major Canadian funding bodies.
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